South Sudan

Juveniles in Torit State Prison Reformed through Different Strengthened Education Platforms

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Within the tall walls of state Prison fence, hundreds have lived without stepping at the gate step to see what goes around Torit town, Juveniles unbelievably inside the fence felt freed to jump and sing for the joy of the day in their prison life.

“Today in Torit State prison, I feel freed because I can play, shout and clap for winning the games while in this place”, say Louis Ongwai

Hopes of good lives after sentence was conveyed through messages of peace, advice, education and assorted games that include tug of Peace and musical chair competitions among the activities to reform and put the long-awaited smiles to the faces of the minors again.

The wins of the games by the juveniles over the peace ambassadors were as a result of cohesion of the hundreds of male and female inmates who consistently sing to boost morale of the games.

“I thought we prisoners are ignored for the crimes we have committed against our people and government , but I want to apologize to the human rights activists and public for their concerns, I promise to go back to school when I finish serving our sentence”, said Louis Ongwai , a 17 years old juvenile who won musical chair race against youth peace ambassadors.

Crimes, ranging from theft, rape to murder are the main causes of imprisonment to young girls and boys of 12 years and above. Being sentenced for many months and years in Torit State Prison, juveniles regained courage and vowed never to indulge in what will make them end up behind bars and stinky cells again.

“I’m now two years old here , I killed a girl in a fight, I regret doing that today and now I’m where I only take bath once a day”, said the 28 years old Paska Dominic while she wipes tears using the sleeve of the blue blouse of her prison uniform in regret of murdering her fellow woman two year ago. “I have missed this kind of freedom and friends.”

“We end up being in jail because we ignore education through multiple platforms, and today I challenge you to learn and to have hope because it’s not late.”, said Martin Saha, the deputy chairperson of youth Peace Ambassadors while ending his messages of advice to the juveniles.

Youth Peace Ambassadors in Torit are the role model of boys and girls, agents of peace and reconciliation within the society and schools, they sensitize different communities in Torit through messages, drama, poem and comedy. They had a written piece to read out to the juveniles at the prison.

This UNMISS organized event was designed to reform juveniles through a strengthened education system, it’s in line with the already existing ‘Accelerated Learning Program’ that enhances learning conditions of inmates who are at the school-going age and are serving sentences in the prisons. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is working with all South Sudanese national stakeholders in Justice sector to ensure peace and justice prevails in the country considering the revitalized peace agreement.

“Our mandate is to deter conflict through peace as well as reduce crimes in South Sudan. Once peace is strengthened conflict will reduce and crimes will also reduce automatically.”, said Anthony Nwapa, the UNMISS Human Rights while representing UNMISS Head of Field Office during the event.

The activity was a big relief to the prison authority, as managing the inmates of such a big capacity in the small prison is stressful. The prison Act 2011 says the juvenile prisoners are subject to compulsory education where available, event outside the prison institution. Other access to activities like social services, religious care, recreational activities and contacts with their families are to boost their welfare in the prison, however, the facility available is opposed to the services written in the prison act.

“I plead to UNMISS to continue supporting such useful programs at least after every three months because it helps in reforming the juveniles and making work easier to the prison officers.”, Says Margaret Idwa, the acting State minister of local government. “To the juveniles, I urge you to benefit from the services time here to improve, you have to leave the prison when you a different person.”